Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily

Homily:  Deacon Terry Ellerman
Blessed Sacrament Parish
February 3, 2013 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.”

This was written in 1965 by Hal David.  And some might ask, did he have his inspiration for this song from our second reading today from Corinthians Chapter 13.  Whether he did or didn't, there is no question St. Paul would say that he agreed with his sentiments.

Let's look at the world of politics.  There has been only one man who was inaugurated four times.  Who was that person?  Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  I only bring that up because during his inauguration, all four of them, he brought his family Bible, which was from the 1600s and was written in  Dutch.  But the scripture he chose, all four times, was the same and that's our second reading, the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians Chapter 13.  

So there is no question that love is important - important in our life, in our world, and what we do.  But what is love?  I am going to read again to you part of the reading.  I want you to enjoy and savor it.

“Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It is not jealous, it is not pompous.  It is not inflated.  It is not rude, it does not seek its own interests.  It is not quick tempered.  It does not brood over injury.  It does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  …
So faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of them is love.”

In our world, we use the word love rather whimsically.  “I love this, and I love that, and I love this.”  In the Greek it's very particular.  Love comes in different words because it means different things.  

Eros for example is a sexual love between a husband and wife.
Philos is the love between friends, between family.  
And Agape is the love that we have from God, a love that is a selfless love that God gives us and we are expected to give to one another.  

So the love that St. Paul is talking about is Agape love - the love that reaches out to another person with no strings attached.  It is a love that sacrifices itself on behalf of the one loved with no thought of what might be received in return.  

Thomas Aquinas gives the definition of love as,  “To will the good of the other for the sake of the other.”   We are all called to love each other.  I want you to think for a moment about the person you love most other than God.  I want you to think about that person or persons.  It is easy to be selfless?  Is it easy to always put them first, in front?

I'd like to say it's easy but I think we know it isn't.  I think we strive to do that but we don't always succeed.  Now I want you to think for a minute of a person you like least in this world and you can only have one.

Now, are we expected to love that person?  Are we expected to look out for their best interest?  And the answer is “yes.”  Remember as a child, Sister would say, “You've got to love everybody.  You don't have to like them, but you have to love them.”  You may not like what they do, but you have to love them.  And why?  Because God made them, he made us.  And by definition, God is love.  He is the source of love and all the love we have comes from him.  We were created from love.

If you think about God and Jesus for a minute here, how does it fit into what Paul says?

Jesus is always patient and kind, Jesus is never jealous.  Jesus is never boastful or conceited.  He is never rude or selfish.  He does not take offense and is not resentful.  He takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth.  He is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.  It fits - doesn't it? Because love is God.

But now I want you to think about what happens if we put our name in that place.  And how does it fit?  So I want you to put your name in.

I am always patient and kind.
I am never jealous.
I am never boastful or conceited.
I am never rude or selfish.  
I never take offense or am resentful.
I take no pleasure in other people's sins but delight in the true.
I am always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure.

Did anybody's name fit in there?  I think we all have a long way to go, but we are on a journey and we are never completely there.  

One of the things we need to look at this morning and this week, and need to ask ourselves is: "Are we loving the way we need to love?"  And the answer is, “No we're not.”

So, how are some ways we can improve? Maybe it is the love for our spouse, or maybe it's love for a co-worker.  But what can we do to change a little to make our love a little better?  

I want to read you an example of love in action, and it's a story told about Jack Benny.  Has anybody ever heard of Jack Benny?

Jack Benny was rather shy when he was young.  One day at work he saw a young lady that greatly attracted his attention.  But he was too shy to speak to her.  So he went to the florist and ordered one red rose to be sent to her without any card enclosed.  And every day he repeated that order.

Well, after four days of receiving one red rose each day, the young lady went to the florist and asked who was sending them.  The florist told her that it was some guy who worked where she did by the name of Jack Benny.  “Yeah,” she said, “I think I know who he is.”

So she searched out Jack and asked him why he was sending her those roses.  He told her that he wanted to ask her out, and she accepted his invitation.  Other dates followed that first one.  But still, every day, she continued to receive one red rose.

Then Jack and Mary got engaged and Mary figured that the red roses would stop.  But still they came.  Finally, they were married, and even on the honeymoon she continued to receive one red rose each day.  But once the honeymoon was over, she figured that the roses would stop.

But month after month, then year after year, all their married life, every day without fail she received a red rose.  Finally, Jack Benny died.  But the very next day, here came another red rose.  Thinking that maybe the florist somehow hadn't heard, she called to tell him of Jack's death and that he could now stop sending the roses.

He answered,  “But you don't understand.  Before he died, Jack made all the arrangements.  You will receive one red rose every day for the rest of your life.”

It happened that she lived another nine years.

I am not asking you to send roses to everyone.  But the question is,  “What is there like that rose that we need to be doing more often that we're not to show the love we have for one another, especially those who are really close to us?”

In the Reading we talked about the virtues of being faithful in love.  It's interesting that when we die and go to heaven we will have no need for faith because we will be able to see clearly.  We will have no need for hope because the reality is there.

But love - we will see the essence of what love truly is - because we will see God.

So, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.”


Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.

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